If he had it his way, engineer turn entrepreneur Julian Jackson would remain a man of mystery, tinkering with his projects behind the scenes. But his penchant and passion for building new things is in fact making him a household name. Jackson has spent over 15 years testing various formulas for a zero-emission, gas-free means of transportation. The result is the Jules Electric Scooter, which can give you up to 30 miles on a single charge. ESSENCE.com caught up with the 2009 L.A. Engineer Winner of the Year and CEO of Jules Electric to talk about Black America’s slow move into the green scene, cutting out the middle man, and the one thing he learned that has shaped his career.
ESSENCE.COM: What kind of kid were you growing up?
JULIAN JACKSON: I was one of those math and science kids growing up but I learned a lot from my mom who was pretty high-tech back in the 1960’s. She had a very unique way of teaching me the notion that every single thing in life has a formula. Once I understood the basics of that, there seemed to be no learning curve for me.
ESSENCE.COM: What inspired you to build an electric scooter?
JACKSON: I was always taking things apart and creating my own version, trying to improve upon the original. Of course, I burned up and fried a lot of stuff before I got to the right thing. First, I started with an electric bicycle. I took something that was pre-existing and made it better. I had a racing bicycle from Germany that could go about 20 miles per hour. It’s light, fast, and aerodynamic. I thought what a perfect machine but it’s missing a motor. This bike was just like a Ferrari—there are no modifications you can do to a Ferrari because it’s built to perfection but I found a way to do it. So, now this same bicycle can go 45 miles per hour without even peddling. I applied the same idea to the scooter.
ESSENCE.COM: How do you plan to market your scooters to African-Americans?
JACKSON: When I first started doing all this, I went directly to my people. I was the town crier. My cry fell on deaf ears. People would tell me, you’re crazy and you’re just a big kid. I just wasn’t taken seriously. But I think it has more to do with being Eco-friendly. Black people just weren’t into it back then. Keep in mind it’s popular now but when I started; they weren’t interested because they simply believed and felt that this green movement didn’t include them.
ESSENCE.COM: In layman’s terms, exactly how does the scooter work? JACKSON: The scooter has two of the main things a car would have—an engine and a battery. Basically, my scooter is a much more efficient version of that. We have the motor and the controller which is the brain of the scooter and it delivers the electricity to the motor. The electricity replaces your gas. The scooter uses a very common type of battery found in many motorcycles and electric automobiles.
ESSENCE.COM: A Jules Scooter is priced at $3,495. Is that high or low for this economy?
JACKSON: A lot of people are upset with me because I just came on the scene and basically mopped up the market at that price. Dealers keep telling me I’m selling at too low a price but I’m holding people to a certain standard. Students are the main ones buying the scooters. This is real transportation for the average person who commutes about nine miles a day. Basically, when you buy this, you don’t have to get a tune-up, or put in oil, gas, or any type of fluids. This is what people are buying in this economy.
ESSENCE.COM: What are the benefits of owning an electric scooter?
JACKSON: No more gas! I laugh every time I cruise by a gas station and see a line. But you can’t understand that feeling unless you experience it. Plus, I can park anywhere.
For more information on Jules Electric Scooters, check out juleselectric.com.